Category Archives: Musings

Missiology Through Scripture – Psalm 97:5-6

“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” – Psalm 97:5-6

The use of the visual of mountains melting like wax seems odd but is not inconsistent in the OT. Both moving mountains (Is. 40:3-5; Zech. 14:4,10) and melting like wax (Ps. 68:2; Mic 1:4) can be seen throughout the OT. The purpose of the imagery is to show the power of the strongest things we know (mountains) is nothing compared to the power of the Lord. In our wildest imagination we cannot comprehend the power of the God. Even the most outlandish imagery imaginable does not do justice to scope of our beautiful Creator.

The glory of Jesus is seen, but not acknowledged, by every person in creation. God’s actions and design and observed and admired throughout the globe. Some falsely attribute his work to nature, man, or random chance. Jonathan Edwards said, “So in the prophecies the Messiah is represented as God, whom the Old Testament often speaks of as ruling sun, moon, and stars. And the heavens are represented as declaring the Messiah’s righteousness. And the heavens, and earth, and sea, and the whole universe, is represented as rejoicing and worshipping and praising the Messiah on occasion of his coming and kingdom.”[1] Those who know and worship the name of Christ understand his righteousness and seek his glory.

God’s hand is seen in everything, and deep within each of us, God has placed a knowledge of himself. Through the wonder of our surroundings every human understands there is a Creator and is given the burden to discover and worship him. Many times, we suppress this knowledge. The purpose of the missionary is to help the lost uncover the truth which God has already placed within them. The missionary shares Christ with the nations and connects the dots from creation to salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus. God’s glory is multiplied among the nations when his righteousness is revealed to the lost by Christ’s messengers.

 

[1] Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2 (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 651.

John Chau, The Sentinelese, And Jesus

North Sentinel Island is located in the Bay of Bengal off the eastern coast of India. The stone age Sentinelese people, whether they know it or not, are ruled by the Indian government. Little is known about the Sentinelese people, as they respond violently when anyone draws near to North Sentinel Island. Official and unofficial estimates put their population between 40 and 500 people.

The Sentinelese speak their own language and have resisted numerous intentional and accidental contacts from outsiders over the past 100 years. Many have tried to contact and catalog the Sentinelese; however, none have been welcomed and most have fled back to the sea under a rain of arrows. It is not known if the Sentinelese fear death and kidnappings, like they experienced in 1880 at the hands of a British naval officer, or if they simply fear outsiders. The only thing known for certain is strangers are not welcome.

John Chau, a 27-year-old Christian from Washington, knew the history of the Sentinelese. John was burdened by his love for Christ and wanted to reach North Sentinel Island with the promises found in the gospel of Christianity.

Mary Ho, the head of All Nations acknowledges her organization evaluated and trained John for his specific “life’s calling” to reach the Sentinelese. All Nations helped to prepare John and explained to him the inherent risks of his missions calling. However, the advanced preparation was short and insufficient.

In October Mr. Chau obtained a tourist visa and traveled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. India has adopted anti-conversion laws and in some cases police arrest people accused of proselytization. Tourists are not permitted to travel to North Sentinel and Chau did not inform the government of his plan to travel to that island. John Chau broke many of man’s laws to get to the Sentinelese.

On November 15th Chau made his first of several journeys to North Sentinel. He spoke and sang in English and Xhosa, a Bantu language. John had long term plans to live among the people, learn their language and culture, and share Christ with the them.

Chau offered gifts and sang to the people, but he was repeatedly chased off the island. On November 17th he returned to the island for his final visit. The fisherman who John bribed to take him close to the island reported they saw the Sentinelese dragging Chau’s lifeless body across the beach.

In missiological terms the Sentinelese are an unreached people group. John Chau was going to the island to, “declare Jesus to these people.” Many have claimed Chau was an imperialist attempting to impose his culture on the Sentinelese. John was not going to North Sentinel with a Yankees jersey, an apple pie, and democracy. He went to the Sentinelese with the noblest of intentions. John Chau went to the Sentinelese because they did not know Jesus, and John knew without Jesus the Sentinelese were destined for an eternity in hell.

It is never wrong to try to share the love of Christ with those who do not know him. The people of North Sentinel Island should not have been ignored and left alone. It is evil for us to know the truth of Christ and not share it with those around us.

While John’s intentions were pure, and his efforts should be applauded by every Christian church, his methods were ill-informed and poorly executed. Experienced missions sending churches and missions sending organization have learned things over time. John was under trained, inadequately prepared, and insufficiently supported through prayer. Future missionaries should and will reach out to the Sentinelese people. It is the prayer of this author those future missionaries progress with urgency and wisdom.

No law of man supersedes the truth of God. My apologies to the Indian government, but no ill-intentioned efforts of man are sufficient or worthy of being obeyed when they attempt to slow the spread of God’s mercy.

To those who claim the Sentinelese should be left alone so as not to be spoiled by the rest of the world, I declare you the enemy of Christ and simple human decency. Why should these people be deprived of common medicines which will save their children? And, there is no philosophy superior to Christ. Depriving these people of Christ is evil.

Innocent people should not be left alone to be unspoiled by modern cultures. There are no innocent people. The only innocent person who ever lived was Jesus and our world hung him on a cross. That is why missionaries must reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus. Thank God for John Chau and for the glory his labors brought our Father. We can only pray the martyrdom of Chau results in greater praise for our Father and the raising up of more missionaries with the same selfless zeal for the grace and justice of Christ.

Missiology Through Scripture – Psalm 96:10

“Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.’” – Psalm 96:10

This passage was once used to assert the earth (and not the sun) is at the center of the universe. Instead, this verse contrasts the instability of life apart from God and the stability found only in Christ. The unchanging nature of God provides our certainty. Our lands are not established on a moral or ethical foundation, but on the never changing characteristics of the immutable Yahweh.

God has created the nations, governed the nations, and will judge the nations. Through his purposeful actions Christ will create stability and peace. God’s perfect justice will be the ruling force over all the nations. John Wesley said, “God hath now set up his kingdom in the world. The nations of the world shall by the means of it enjoy an established and lasting peace.”[1] The psalmist declares the kingship of God over all the nations. Through God’s judgment and rule the nations will enjoy the perfect harmony found only in Christ.

The Lord has called his missionaries to go into the world and proclaim God’s perfect rule always has and always will be in place. The people are not to seek the fairness and goodness as determined by the world. The fairness which can only be found in the perfect rule of Christ is our eternal goal. A missionary is not to enter a new culture and declare to the people their culture and lifestyle is acceptable and perfectly laudable. Every culture, every government, every lifestyle which is void of Christ is detestable and sinful. Disciples of Christ do not seek to infuse Jesus into someone’s life to make it a little better. Our missionaries are to learn cultures, so they can reach the people within and teach their lifestyle, as it is, is an affront to the perfect God. Christ must not be a part of our life but must reign over every facet of our lives.

 

[1] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Bristol: William Pine, 1765), 1769.

Missiology Through Scripture – Psalm 96:1-3

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” – Psalm 96:1-3

This is a proclamation toward the praise of God. It declares to all the nations to look forward to the gospel of Christ. All earthly inhabitants are called to praise God. The passage calls for a singing of a new song. If the song is the story of our lives, the new song is the creation of a new story in each of us. The discovery of this new song results in praise for God.

Our missionaries are to go into all the world with the knowledge Yahweh controls lands and leaders. Missionaries are not to fear man but obey God. The foundation of our church, at the heart of our Scriptures, is the sending out of our best and brightest to reach the lost in all the nations. Duane Garrett said, “The Lord God of Israel rules over all the earth, and all its peoples must bow to Him. This is the great missionary song of the Bible.”[1] Disciples of Christ go into the nations and declare and disciple the meaning of Scripture knowing the result will be the spreading of his joy.

Take note the order in which the actions take place in this passage. Followers of the Lord are called to sing and praise the Lord. This results in a blessing of his name and an expansion of his glory. When we love the Lord we daily tell others of what he has done for us and feel burdened to go out and declare his saving message to the lost. The passage, as well as our lives, begins with a God centered relationship where we learn to thank him for all. This results in an outward compulsion to interact with other humans. There is a direct correlation between the depth of our love for Christ and the irrepressible passion to share him with others.

[1] Duane A. Garrett, “The Poetic and Wisdom Books,” in Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 229.

Missiology Through Scripture – Psalm 87:4-6

“Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush – ‘This one was born there,’ they say. And of Zion it shall be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her’; for the Most High himself will establish her. The Lord records as he registers the peoples, ‘This one was born there.’ Selah” – Psalm 87:4-6

Zion is the chosen city of God. Being born in Jerusalem bestows privilege on a person. Those born outside the city do not maintain similar benefits. The people of Zion look forward to when the enemies of God, will also be glorious citizens of Zion. The places recorded in these verses are a who’s who list of Gentile nations which have opposed God’s elect. It is radical to think these enemies of the state will receive great privilege. Only through Christ can enemies of the Lord be considered privileged.

In an earthly context it is common to see foreign enemies punished instead of lifted up. In times of war victorious nations often breed out, murder, or otherwise punish the survivors of defeated states. In history, a victorious nation is considered magnanimous if they do not punish the loosing people. However, the world does not mirror what is seen here in Scripture. The people of Jerusalem are pinning for a time when God’s enemies will receive the same privilege as a Jerusalem-born follower of God. Michael Horton said, “Children of Israel’s erstwhile enemies, even Egyptians and Babylonians, will be told that they were born in Zion and of Zion.”[1] We do not seek to separate the enemies of God from their Creator. Disciples of God long to unite the lost with Yahweh.

Those who have a heart for the lost do not wish to see the enemies of the Lord driven out but bonded with God. A truly missions minded saint prays passionately for his dissenters. We shall never wish ill upon those who disagree with us, nor do we pray they will agree with us. A Christian prays and works toward the day when their enemies will achieve equal status to them in Christ. The privileges and benefits of being a Christian are something we desire for all, especially our adversaries.

 

[1] Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 723.